Through a maze of rooms dedicated to up-market children’s toys and clothing, past a wellness centre and slew of womenswear brands, sits a gleaming new jewel on the fourth floor of London’s iconic Harrods department store. The newest concession from New York-based jewellery brand and piercing specialist, Maria Tash, sits in a brightly lit corner of the department. Lacquered white walls, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and long glass display cabinets illuminate the space, which conceals four small piercing rooms within.
This is the second London outpost of Maria Tash — her Liberty location has been piercing and adorning well-to-do Londoners since 2016. But Harrods is designed with another customer in mind — not locals, but tourists flying in from the middle east, Russia and Asia — with deep pockets a taste for the extravagant.
For the industry-leading designer and entrepreneur, this was a unique opportunity to let loose. “Harrods called, and I couldn’t turn it down,” explains Tash, sitting on a sofa next to a selection of lotus-inspired designs created especially for the launch. “I felt the freedom to go bigger with the stones and diamonds — we’re pushing the envelope without worrying about anything — and it’s been so liberating.”
“Harrods called, and I couldn’t turn it down”
The city has held a place in Tash’s heart after coming to study abroad in King’s College in the 90s. “I came over here partly to study and partly to sample the culture,” she reminisces. “Those were formative days at Kensington market where I got my nostril double-pierced — it was a very exciting time. I love coming to London, it always had a great connotation to me.”
An echo of London’s punk heritage rings true in the city’s best sellers — anything with spikes — while Tash’s upcoming foray into mens jewellery will include mohawk-inspired black diamonds set face-down to reveal the sharp end of the stone. Regardless of style, Tash believes the secret to the success of her business lies in the experiential element. “Whenever we have service or styling with jewellery, we sell a lot more,” she says. “That human interaction where we can say: ‘let’s try this one,’ or ‘with your complexion the pink gold may be interesting,’ helps to sell exponentially.”
While e-commerce partnerships with Net-a-Porter and Matches are reportedly successful, nothing compares to the in-store experience, especially when considering the specific sizing of her earrings. “We have so many little variations on diameter — how do you convey that scale online?” Tash asks. “In store, it’s easy, but it’s much more challenging technologically. It’s [the difference] between buying an accessory and buying an experience.”
Having pioneered piercing trends like the “constellation” of intricate hoops and studs that have scattered across the ears of celebrities and influencers in recent years, Tash is looking to the future of the industry. So what’s the next piercing trend? We’ll have to wait to find out. “I feel I need to locate different areas we can hide an interesting little piercing,” she says. “It’s difficult to come up with new spots, but if you invent jewellery shapes then you can find ways to embed them. I have two spots in mind that we will eventually release, that’s upcoming.”